Back in the early 2000s, I used to
procrastinate recharge my creative juices by reading productivity porn and notebook porn, each of which sometimes bled into the other. Not sure if there is still such a strong analog sect of the Getting Things Done (GTD) cult as there was back then, but those were heady days of Hipster PDAs and using Moleskines for “capture.” I never went that far—my Moleskine was firmly a writer’s notebook, and, although I eventually became comfortable just scribbling all sorts of thoughts and observations in it, I was always fairly conscious of its cost and didn’t want to waste space on ephemeral things like to-do lists.
Each of these topics (productivity and notebooks) often inspired discussions of everyday carry (“EDC,” to initiates), that is, what your tools are and how you bring them around with you. One generally wouldn’t find oneself at the intersection of GTD and analog without really loving analog and having some strong opinions about exactly what notebooks, pens, etc. are worth allowing to take up pocket real estate every day.
One topic I remember coming up from time to time was how best to carry a pen, make sure you always had one with you, etc. In addition to discussions of size (Fisher Bullet Space Pen won there), there were discussions of the thing many people felt that Moleskines lacked: a pen loop. So, in the DIY spirit of the Hipster PDA and related items, one would often find people’s descriptions of how they had cobbled together some sort of homemade pen loop. I don’t remember a lot of detail about those, although I’m sure there was a duct-tape version.
Anyway, I never felt the need for a pen loop, since I almost always carried my Moleskine and PIlot G-2 in either jeans or khakis, and it always seemed to work pretty well. Pens always seemed to rest pretty well in a sort of “pocket” formed between the edge of the notebook and the relatively tight fabric of the pocket in such styles of pants.
Then, I stopped carrying a notebook for a long time. As I mentioned recently, I have started again, first a Molsekine hardcover last fall and now a Leuchturm 1917 softcover. And one thing I noticed is that, perhaps because I now work from home and most often am wearing less constructed clothing, the pen no longer seems to stay in that nice slot next to the notebook.
So, I decided to order some pen loops. I initially considered the pen loops sold by Leuchturm, but I balked at the prices I found, ranging from $4 to $6+ apiece. (Balking at price might sound strange coming from someone who just admitted to now carrying a pocket notebook that costs about $10 to $11, but, as opposed to an actual writing surface, where quality considerations are more key, I thought pen loops might be an area worth economizing in). So, I found (or, really, Amazon somehow proffered) the Arune Pen and Stylus Loop, which comes in a four-pack for $9.99.
Much like the Leuchturm ones, these are just little loops of elastic attached to little plastic pieces, which in turn have adhesive on one side. The Arune ones come in either “tech” (smooth) or (synthetic) “leather” textures. I got the “tech” ones for no particular reason and just installed one on my pocket Leuchturm this morning. (Per Arune, the “tech” ones are intended for uses on, well, “tech” items, such as for iPad styli, etc. But other than appearance, there is no difference.)
Installation was dead easy (well, one would hope so). I did decide to install mine on the front cover, because an Amazon reviewer had observed that installing it on the back cover does create a lump under your pages, a lump that becomes more and more acute the closer you get to the back of the notebook. I immediately recognized that this is something that would bug me, too.
On both the Leuchturm and Arune loop pages, I’d seen reviewers complain about the tightness of the loop. I got mediums. It takes a slight bit of effort to get my Pigma pen into the loop (mainly because of the way the back of the Pigma has sort of a graduated design, with a lip that wants to hang up on the loop), but it seems an ideal tightness for securely retaining a pen of this size. (I do note that they sell at least two sizes of loop.) I think you could get slightly wider pens (such as fountain pens) into this size, but, if you find that you have ordered the wrong size, keep in mind that you could always use the medium loops to keep pens near a wall calendar or shopping list pad, etc., so it won’t be wasted money.)
Another complaint had to do with the way the elastic interfaces with the plastic tab that affixes to the notebook. Basically, a small piece of the tab extends out into the loop—it’s what the loop is sewn to, and of course it has to extend past where the line of stitching is so that the stitches will stay in place. What’s the complaint? Some people who found the medium size tight on their fountain pens were concerned that the plastic could scratch the barrel of said pen. This seems plausible, so I definitely wouldn’t put an heirloom pen in the loop (although, maybe this kind of plastic can’t really scratch?).
But listen: what are you doing carrying a fountain pen around in your pocket, anyway?
As long as you aren’t concerned about the possibility of a scratch (as in my case, with disposable pens), the little piece of the tab that extends into the loop is a feature, not a bug. Without it, the loop would be, to use a technical term, “floppy,” and wouldn’t keep the pen “in position” along the edge of the notebook. But with the little piece extending into the loop, it functions to position the pen quite nicely and keep it relatively less mobile in one’s pocket.
So, all in all, these seem to be a great product at a great price. If it falls off before I’m done with the notebook, I’ll update this review.
Here’s how it looks in action:
Update from Brian at Arune:
Thanks for sharing the review. The detail of the review is great. A few things to mention, we have several mix packs that contains all 3 size leather and the rigid tech loop. So, nobody needs to guess about what size will fit.
Also, the leather grain loops are a lot less likely to scratch a pen because of the softer material [which feels like the cover of a Moleskine].
And, we stand behind the product, so if there are any problems with the loops, please let us know and we will try to make it right.